Cash & Coupling: How To Sell An Engagement Ring

When a man gets down on one knee and offers you a ring, it can be one of the most blindingly blissful experiences of your life. But sometimes, after you accept the offering and your eyes adjust to the light, you realize that while diamonds last forever, the men who give them to you sometimes don’t. So when Mr. “I think he’s the one!” turns into Mr. “Bullet Dodged,” what do you do with the rock left behind? You may love bling, but you don’t want to wear the karma of relationships past on your finger. And sure, diamonds are great for scratching the paint on his car, but you’re much more mature than that. Sometimes the only reasonable thing to do is to sell that bad boy, but selling a diamond is more complicated than unloading that treadmill you bought last January and never used.

In order to safely get the best price for your jewelry after a relationship goes bust, Jerry Ehrenwald, president and CEO of the International Gemological Institute (IGI), the world’s largest independent laboratory for grading and evaluating diamonds and gemstones, offered Frisky readers this advice.

Be sure the jewelry is yours to have and to hold. There’s a big difference between a $500 cocktail ring your man gave you your last Christmas together and the $15,000 ring he proposed with. And lady, if that schmuck cheated on you while you were trying on frilly white dresses, I’ll be the first to say that losing what he spent on your ring is the least he deserves. Unfortunately, most laws aren’t based on etiquette or the justice owed a woman scorned, so do a little research before you try to unload your ring. Some states say that whoever walks away from the relationship forfeits their claim to the ring that symbolized the commitment. Others say a gift’s a gift, so you need to know the rules of the playing field before you make your move.

And if you were actually married? The ring may be considered communal property, which means the ring will be included in the division of property during your divorce. Bottom line? You want to get out of this situation as painlessly as possible, and making sure the ring is yours to sell will save you headaches and heartaches down the road.

Check the store’s return policy. If your engagement ended quickly enough, you may be within your jeweler’s return policy, but remember; they’re a business. Don’t expect them to take back a piece that they sold months or even years ago. And if they do agree to take the piece, they may only be willing to offer store credit, which will still leave you with jewelry that reminds you of your ex. Before you walk out without the ring, though, make sure this is what you really want. If there’s any chance of reconciliation, having to pay full price to get another ring later will be especially bitter.

Get your piece appraised. In order to determine the price you can reasonably expect to receive for your piece, you need to hire a professional appraiser. Ehrenwald cautions you not to cut corners on this step. “Be sure to use an independent, accredited appraiser,” he recommends. “An independent appraiser doesn’t buy or sell jewelry, and won’t be biased as he appraises your piece. Professional appraisers can be found through organizations such as the IGI, and should be senior tested and accredited by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), have gone through gemology school, and appraisal school.” Costs for appraisals are minimal, and are often based on the weight of the components of your piece — such as the diamonds plus the melt value of the gold or platinum. Beware of any appraiser who charges based on the value of the piece. This is an outdated practice that brings bias to the appraisal, Ehernwald warns.

When you bring your jewelry to the appraiser, it’s important to tell him you’re looking for the liquidation price of the piece. “There are different levels of valuating,” Ehrenwald explains. “Tell the appraiser you’re looking to liquidate your piece and need to get the highest price that you can.” If the appraiser thinks you’re asking what it would cost to replace the ring for insurance purposes, the value will be much higher than what you can sell the piece for yourself. And brace yourself; Ehrenwald says it’s unrealistic to expect to sell your piece for near the retail value, which means you’ll get less than you paid for it. You may even have to settle for less than the liquidation value, but at least you’ll have a starting asking price.

Try to sell directly to a buyer. To get the best price for your jewelry, Ehrenwald says you need to try to sell directly to the consumer. Retailers have overhead expenses to cover, and their expenses will reduce how much of the piece’s sale price ends up in your pocket. You can advertise your ring online on a website such as Craigslist, but if you’re uncomfortable with this, an auction such as eBay or Sotheby’s may be a better bet, suggests Ehrenwald. One of the easiest ways to unload the piece may be through a jewelry store or a pawn shop. Just realize that the further you get from the consumer, the less you should expect to profit.

Use common sense. If you try to sell the jewelry yourself, never share your home address or meet a potential buyer at your home. Arrange meetings in a public place, and it’s smart to bring a friend. “If you have a jeweler you know and trust, they may be willing to keep the ring and sell it on your behalf,” Ehrenwald offers as another option. Just be sure you really trust this jeweler and get your arrangement in writing.

Get on with your life. If you’ve decided to sell the piece, sell it and move on. Maybe you’ve decided to split the proceeds with your ex; if so, you’re probably one of those amazing people who’ll donate the other half to charity, and that’s awesome. What you don’t want to do is buy something that will remind you of the life you had with the guy who didn’t work out. Nothing’s more obnoxious than buying a couch and saying things like, “I totally made out with a hottie on my engagement ring last night.” Use the proceeds to do something healthy for yourself, and leave your past where it belongs.

Photo: iStockphoto

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